Breaking Bad Eating Habits and the Hold They Have On You
The comedian Louis C.K. said it: “Food is supposed to be fuel, not a disgusting, debilitating vice.”
We need food every day. Sadly, much of our western diet is based around ‘taste sensations’ than providing the ideal fuel for functioning at our best. Of course, we all love a treat. And why not? The problems arise when we have treats on offer all the time and keep accepting them. So many are loaded with sugar (especially high fructose corn syrup) which is addictive and the root cause of inflammatory ailments like obesity, cancer, heart disease, organ problems, and diabetes. Then there all the foods with complicated ingredients – additives and preservatives. They’re everywhere. Before we know it, we are eating poorly almost all the time. We don’t realize we’re snacking on a candy bar or some chips every day. We aren’t aware that the bread we eat contributes to excessive sugar consumption. We forget that sauces on our entrées all contain sugar or that energy drinks are brimming with toxins.
So, how do we break bad eating habits? We’re here to help. You don’t have to starve yourself, that’s for sure. Nor do you have to eat ‘boring’ food or go ‘cold turkey’. Follow these steps and you’ll be on your way to a better and healthier day, every day.
Breaking bad eating habits can begin gently. An effective technique is to write down everything you eat and drink each day. Make a chart for seven days. Keep a list on your phone. And be honest. If you grab a secret snack, include that. No cheating; you’re only cheating yourself.
When you see a week’s worth of items, you might be surprised. The following week, you may find yourself questioning if that donut is worth it and thinking you should have a banana instead.
That small change in mindset can be the first step. A journey of 1,000 miles starts with one step.
Stress is a primary cause of bad eating. When you’re stressed, certain foods can trigger good memories or release dopamine in your brain (the ‘feel good’ hormone). Those foods become associated with comfort.
Go for a 5-minute walk. Take deep, regular breaths and repeat positive words to yourself. Start a new hobby or enjoy your existing one better. Join a gym. Engages in physical touch with a loved one. Meditate. Try a little yoga or tai chi.
Then praise yourself for doing this instead of snacking.
These are all easy to do and proven to help reduce stress and food cravings.
Our nation is addicted to sugar.
Cutting back a little at a time is more manageable than going ‘cold turkey’ and then giving into cravings. But it’s up to you to decide how fast you want to change. Remember to keep notes of your daily consumption.
- Look to fresh snacks. Pick up some blueberries or strawberries. They’re delicious and high in antioxidants.
- Find a different reward. Look to fresh fruit, nuts, and seeds. Cacao nibs are a really good and yummy substitute.
- Water instead of grocery store fruit juice. Lots of water every day. If you want flavor, add some lemon or lime juice.
- Raw organic honey instead of refined sugar. It’s delicious in coffee and tea. Organic honey has superb antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, along with enzymes, vitamins and minerals.
- Cut down on breads. That includes pastries, pizza dough, hotdog buns, even sliced bread from the grocery store. They all contain added sugar.
Other Mindful Changes
- Plan your weekly food. Write down the meals and snacks you intend to eat for a week, then shop for those things and nothing else. If you have better food choices in your house, you’ll want to eat them before they spoil
- Never shop when you’re hungry! Eat (well) beforehand.
- Use healthful supplements. Boosting your intake of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, enzymes and phytonutrients will make you feel better, physically and mentally. But remember that supplements do not take the place of a good diet. They assist. Get the best supplements that are free of sugar and other inflammatory ingredients and have been formulated by proven health experts with no agenda other than your wellness.
- Absent-minded eating. Do not multitask when you eat. It’s too easy to eat more than you intended. Eat mindfully and purposefully.
- Portion control. Don’t overload your plate and don’t graze out of packages.
- Eat breakfast. Skipping breakfast slows your metabolism and makes you crave and ‘load up’ on unhealthy foods later.
- Skip dessert.
- Avoid long ingredient lists. If a package or jar on the supermarket shelf has more than five or six ingredients, especially ones with long and strange names, go for whole foods instead.
Finally… Don’t Be Too Hard On Yourself
If you have a bad day or indulge in an ‘evil’ snack once in a while, it’s not the end of the world. Beating yourself up and feeling guilty are the kinds of reactions that can diminish enthusiasm for your goal of breaking your bad eating habits. Guilt eating can be a continuous cycle.
Remain positive. Keep your eye on the eventual goal(s). As you work steadily and methodically, praise yourself for your achievements, no matter how big or small. And remember that this is for you. You deserve improved health and vitality!
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